Author Archives: Aimee

On the Scent of Life

On the Scent of Life

In the distance he saw it; the figure of a woman, emerging from a stand of pin oak and palmetto. He had to squint to make sure he was seeing right. Sometimes at dusk, when daylight mixes with the onset of early evening’s darkness, things get murky; one’s eyes can play tricks on one.

But the figure was real and young; willowy, dressed in a black T-Shirt and short black skirt. Her pale face framed by dark hair pulled tightly behind her head in a pony tail. Ahead of her trotted an unleashed scruffy brown and white dog.

Barefooted, she navigated the sandy soil filled with crab grass, prickly weeds and mounds that teemed with armies of fire ants with no problem.

The young woman moved slowly to where he stood in the middle of an overgrown vacant lot next to the motel where he’d been staying; a perfect place for walking one’s dog.

“Stay, Vida,” he commanded the large Belgian shepherd that sat by his side.

The woman’s small dog confidently strolled up to the big shepherd, stopping right before her. The well-trained Vida sat unmoving, calmly surveying his visitor.

“Easy, Clancy,” the woman spoke to her dog, a small poodle-mix.

The man laughed. “I’m Tom and this is my dog, Vida,” he spoke to her. “No worries for Clancy. Vida is a Cadaster, or Cadaver Dog; he only means business when he’s on the scent of death,” he explained before stopping abruptly. He’d learned that this information sometimes unnerved strangers. “Let’s just say he’s a well-trained dog that helps locate the deceased after a disaster has occurred.”

The woman gave him a curious look. “Vida?” she said. “In Spanish that means life. Odd choice for a dog obsessed with death?”

“Yes,” Tom said, nodding. “I’ve heard that before. I like to think we give people closure so they can go on living their lives knowing the truth about a loved one, and maybe bring some closure to the departed, if you believe that kind of thing.”

“It sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself,” the girl said.

Her statement gave him pause. She wasn’t wrong. Lately his relationship with his wife and children had been a bit strained.

He spoke to the woman. “Perhaps you’re on to something. Lately I’ve been accused of caring more about my dog, and my work, than the humans in my life.” He paused. He’d never shared these thoughts with anyone. “But it’s just that we’ve become so bonded. Our work together gives me purpose. We know what to expect from each other. Sometimes I feel closer to her than any other living thing.”

The woman listened intently and nodded. “I understand,” she said. “Take Clancy here. His owner died just the other day. I was here for the wake today and funeral services tomorrow and to watch after him.”

Tom said nothing. His eyes met those of the small dog before him. They shimmered from the glow of a nearby street lamp that had just come on.

“His owner thought of Clancy as the child she never had. Her life revolved him in a way most couldn’t understand, even her own family. In some ways it drove a wedge between them all which seems so sad now.”

“What will happen to Clancy?” he found himself asking. “He looks like an excellent companion.”
“He is,” she said. “I don’t know. I can’t keep him so I’ll have to take him to the shelter I suppose. No one in the family wants him and I’m going away. I hope he finds the right home, someone to love him just like his former owner had.”

She squatted to kiss Clancy on his head as if to console him. “Well, it’s late and it’ll be a long day tomorrow,” she said before heading toward the woods from which she’d come, Clancy following close behind as if scared he’d lose her trail.

Tom had felt a peculiar coolness as the woman had stood before him, which was odd given the extreme heat of the day. But as she’d departed, the full weight of the lingering heat and humidity descended on him.

He stood in the darkness unmoving, deep in thought. Lately he’d spent a great deal of time trying to convince himself that all was right in his life. But increasingly, he just couldn’t. The long days he spent out on the road running from disaster to disaster found him almost constantly in the wake of earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes. The routine had taken its toll on his family, and him. He recalled too many hot summer days spent searching for human bodies and bones with Vida by his side while most of the world was at the beach searching for shells and sand dollars and throwing balls for their fun-loving dogs to fetch.

His life was shifting; shutting down. Numbness was moving in.

It occurred to him that his family had been asking for a dog; one just like Clancy actually. But he’d argued that they already had a dog. “No,” his young son had said. “We want a dog that digs for normal kinds of bones and doesn’t work all the time.”

Tom sighed and realized he’d not gotten the young woman’s name and had no idea of where she was staying. “Come, Vida,” he spoke to his dog in the dark. “I’m exhausted, time to hit the sack.”

In the motel coffee shop the next morning Tom lingered over the local newspaper. On the floor next to him Vida sat wearing her working vest. He placed a steaming hot mug of coffee down on the counter and perused the “Local” section. His eyes were immediately drawn to the photo of a young woman. He knew that face. It was her. The woman he’d met last night in the field with Clancy.

Tom read the story of how this girl had been a victim of a car accident which had occurred just three days ago not far from this motel. She’d been visiting family when her car had gone off the road. She’d died before she even got to the hospital. Her funeral would be held today. He read the entire article three times and the accompanying obituary. There was no mention of Clancy.

He stood up so quickly his mugged tipped over. Brown liquid spilled and splashed all over the paper and the photo of the woman. He apologized distractedly and threw a few singles on the counter. He looked down at Vida. His dog’s attention was focused on something just outside the shop’s window. It was Clancy sitting right outside the coffee shop’s door.

“There’s that stray again,” a waitress said to a man behind the counter. “Poor thing was probably dumped by its owner. Happens a lot around here.”

Tom nodded a rebuttal. “No. I met the dog’s owner last night,” he said, not believing his own words.
“Well, if you see them again you better tell them the manager is gonna’ call the pound and have it taken away soon,” she said. “I know we’re a dog-friendly establishment, but we have our limits.”

Tom walked Vida out the door into the blasting heat of another hot day. Clancy’s tail wagged and swished across the warm concrete in happy recognition.

“Clancy?” Tom called. The fluffy dog slowly stood and walked to him. Vida licked at Clancy’s ears.
Tom’s legs went out from under him. He collapsed to the ground. Curbside, he sat flanked by both dogs. “Clancy,” he spoke to the dog. “I think I know a family that would love to have you.”

He felt a stream of hot tears roll down his face. Vida licked them off before they rolled off his chin.
The manager of the coffee shop came out to see Tom. “Is that dog bothering you? He’s been hanging around here for the past few days,” he said. “I’ve been meaning to call animal control, but I’ve been hoping his owner claims him. I seem to recall a young girl who checked in with him a few days ago. I don’t think she would abandon him. She told me that she was so happy that she’d found a dog-friendly motel.”

Tom listened to him as he focused his gaze on Clancy.

The man prattled on. “I seem to remember that she said she was visiting family and her dog wasn’t welcome in their house due to allergies and what not. This is the first time that dog has let anyone near him.”

Tom recalled the young woman’s words. It drove a wedge between them all which seems so sad now. She’d been talking about her own life.

Tom put on his sunglasses and looked up at the man. “A call to animal control won’t be necessary,” he told the manager. “As a matter of fact, I was just telling Clancy here that his owner has been very concerned about him.”

The manager shrugged, rubbing the back of his neck, seemingly satisfied with this turn of events. “Safe travels,” he said, returned to the cool of the coffee shop.

Tom spoke to the dog. “Clancy, if you’re willing to go with Vida here, and me, I can take you to a great new place to live for the rest of your life.”

As if understanding, Clancy’s tail wagged again, faster.

“Life,” Tom repeated the word. It sounded good.

Tom stood and fished keys from his pocket. He led the dogs to his car. They both hopped in, Vida took her station next to her master, and Clancy claimed the back.

“Hang in there Clancy,” Tom said looking back at the dog with a smile. “It’s a long ride home.”
He turned his attention to Vida and spoke to the big panting dog. “But the ride won’t seem so lonely because for the first time in a long time, Vida, we’re on the scent of life.”

Vida seemed to understand. She threw back her head and let out a loud happy-sounding yip as if saying the word “Life” in a language only a dog could understand.

About the Author:
According to Chinese star-gazers, Lisa Begin-Kruysman was born during the Hours and the Year of the Dog. It’s no surprise then that she’s made canines the focus of her award-winning works of Fiction and Non-Fiction, and social media platform. She is the recipient of the DWAA’s Maxwell Medallion and the North Shore Animal League America Award and the author of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland & Co. – 2014). Judy was also a co-founder of the DWAA. Her writing is inspired by the licks and love of her adorable foster-to-forever dog, Teddy.

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Top Tips for Summer Pet Safety

Summer is full of fun events, and more and more of them are welcoming pets! Always check first to make sure your dog will be welcome, and if they are, here’s what you need to know before you go to keep your dog safe and happy.

Keep your pets safe in the summer

Top Tips for Summer Pet Safety

1. First thing’s first! Don’t leave home without… 4-ft. leash (NOT retractable), portable water dish + water, pet formulated sunscreen, ID tag with your cell phone number, poo bags

2. Parked Cars – Even on mild days your car gets HOT, which can turn fatal in as little as 15 minutes. Never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows cracked. If he’s not feeling the festival, you need to call it a day.

3. Sunshine – When temperatures are peaking, take frequent breaks in the shade. It’s also a good idea to bring along a spray bottle so you can deliver a cooling spritz whenever your dog needs it.

4. Beer Tent – Nothing refreshes like a cold beer on a hot day, but never share your brew with your bud. Alcohol is toxic to pets, even in seemingly “harmless” amounts.

5. Food Truck – Chicken wings, Mexican street corn and funnel cake, oh my! They may be staple fare at summer fairs, but they don’t belong on Fido’s plate. Bones, cobs and greasy fats can cause intestinal blockages and pancreatitis. Pack fresh veggies for a healthy treat.

6. Your trash is a dog’s treasure – Fairgrounds are a smorgasbord of dropped food and wrappers—so you’ve got to think one step ahead of your pet! To prevent accidental snacking, use a Gentle Leader to control roving noses.

7. Other Dogs – It’s always fun to make new friends, but remember that dogs can easily become overstimulated in a busy environment. Keep meetings with other animals brief, and if you see either pet stiffen, growl, or give a hard stare or side eye, end the introduction and take a time out.

8. Children – The youngest among us can be unpredictable, loud and unaware of how to properly approach a dog. Small children who are running around can activate your dog’s instinct to chase. Give your pup space from playing children so he doesn’t perceive them as a threat.

9. Fireworks – A summertime favorite—but your dog may not always enjoy them. Avoid events with explosives if your pup suffers from noise phobias (if he doesn’t like thunderstorms, that’s a good clue). If you do bring your pet to a festival with fireworks, hold on tight to his leash; a startled pup may try to bolt from the blast, and you don’t want to lose your dog in the crowd!

10. Music – Keep an eye on your dog when your favorite band takes the stage, and remove him to a quiet area if you notice any signs of discomfort. If your pup is trembling, barking, cowering, or trying to bolt, he may not be ready to rock and roll.

11. Campfires – A crackling campfire feels quintessentially summer, but can tempt curious noses and cause accidental burns. Keep furry friends a safe distance from the flames. If you’re making s’mores be sure chocolate, wrappers and roasting sticks don’t fall into the wrong paws.

12. Puddles – If a “rain or shine” event turns soupy and soggy, be sure to keep your dog from drinking from puddles. Leptospirosis and giardia lurk in standing water, and can cause nasty illnesses that will rain on your parade.

13. Crowds – Unfortunately, there may be times when furry festival goers behave better than two-legged guests. Stay away from rowdy crowds and avoid letting intoxicated people hound your dog.

Whether you’re sun worshipping or stargazing, summer fairs and festivals are fun for the whole family. With your best friend in tow, there’s more to prepare for, but with a little planning it’s easy to put safety first. We hope that you have a fun summer, and don’t forget to follow these tips from the Petplan expert.

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Pet Proof Your Car

The summer season has started, and with it comes road trips! Of course, any time you travel with your fur baby in the car messes might happen. Luckily there are some easy tips to help you pet proof your car so it’s always ready to go!

Pet Proof Your Car

We thought that these tips were pretty helpful and quiet easy to put into practice. Plastic mats are a good idea even if you don’t travel with your pet! We would also like to suggest that you get your pet their own seat belt so they can stay safe during your rides.

Also, it’s helpful to know if your pet suffers from car sickness or not, because that is miserable for everyone! If they do you can talk with your vet to see which options might help best.

Hopefully these tips will help you, and your fur babies, enjoy road trips and keep your car clean too!

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Treat your favorite person with MunchPak

Listen closely pets, your person always gives you special treats, and now it’s time for you to treat your human, and luckily there is an easy way to do it! You won’t even have to go to the store. MunchPak is a fun subscription service that offers snacks from all over the world.


We were pretty excited to get a chance to try them out! MunchPak sent us a subscription box in exchange for our review. What we liked most was the variety! There were a lot of different types of treats, like potato chips (hot ketchup flavored, and truffle flavored), and candies (like these sour sloths).

Sour Gummy Sloth candy

Here are some of the other highlights of this subscription service:

• There are 3 MunchPak box sizes; MunchPak Mini (5+ snacks), Original MunchPak (10+ snacks), and FamilyPak (20+ snacks)
• You can customize your MunchPak with a variety of snack options such as Spicy, Chips, Gummy, Sweet, and Crunchy which you can select as preferred or non-preferred.
• There are drinks! You can choose to add a soda, coffee, juice, and/or tea to your MunchPak
• You can choose for your subscription to renew every week, every two weeks, or every month
• They also offer gift subscription options
• Love a snack that you tried? You can repurchase them in their store.
• The Snack Scanner app is available for download on both Android and Apple devices

If you want to learn more or get signed up be sure to click the photo above to get a discount! Thanks MunchPak for giving us the chance to try your awesome treat service.

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